Kenya launches extended railway to boost rural economy

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday launched the 120-km Nairobi-Naivasha Standard Gaige Railway (SGR) that is expected to transform the country's hinterland through enhanced movement of passengers and cargo.

Kenyatta was joined by dignitaries to ride in the maiden SGR passenger train prior to the official ceremony to launch its operation along a corridor whose scenic features include escarpments and expansive plains.

"The completion of Nairobi to Suswa section of SGR is expected to revolutionize the development of this region through affordable transport. It will also stimulate tourism in the greater Rift Valley," said Kenyatta.
He said that Kenya is banking on the extended railway line that is part of the proposed Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba SGR project, to strengthen its position as a regional industrial and logistics hub.

The Kenyan leader also participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for an Inland Container Depot (ICD) that will be linked to the Nairobi-Naivasha SGR infrastructure to ease the movement of bulk cargo to the interior.

China Communication Construction Company implemented phase 2A of the SGR whose landmark features include five stations that will facilitate passenger transport as well as 3 tunnels, 29 bridges and 148 culverts.

The contractor adhered to international environmental protection guidelines and financed several community livelihood projects during the implementation of the extended railway line.

Wu Peng, the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya, said the launch of SGR phase 2A will boost connectivity, spark growth of local industries and create additional jobs.

The implementation of second phase of SGR project that commenced in October 2016 opened the Kenyan hinterland to investments.

James Macharia, cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said that its operationalization marked a milestone in Kenya's quest to revolutionize the movement of industrial goods and skilled labor.